The role of kidney transplantation and phosphate binder use in vitamin K status

Thijs T Jansz, Aegida Neradova, Adriana J van Ballegooijen, Marianne C Verhaar, Marc G Vervloet, Leon J Schurgers, Brigit C van Jaarsveld

Published: 01/08/2018


Background: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in end-stage renal disease and is strongly associated with vascular calcification. Both kidney transplantation and phosphate binders may lower the risk of vascular calcification. Vascular calcification is actively inhibited by vitamin-K-dependent matrix γ-carboxyglutamic acid protein (MGP). Whether kidney transplantation or phosphate binders affect vitamin K status is unknown. Therefore, we studied the influence of kidney transplantation and phosphate binder use on vitamin K status.

Methods: We measured plasma desphospho-uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP), a marker reflecting low vitamin K status, in a cross-sectional study of patients on hemodialysis (n = 82), peritoneal dialysis (n = 31) or who recently received a kidney transplantation (n = 36). By medication inventory, we assessed phosphate binder use. With linear regression, we assessed the influence of kidney transplantation and phosphate binder use on natural-log-transformed dp-ucMGP, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: Mean age of patients was 52±13 years; 102 (68%) were male. Dp-ucMGP levels were significantly lower in kidney transplant recipients (median 689 pmol/L) compared to patients on dialysis (median 1537 pmol/L, p<0.001). Eighty-nine patients on dialysis used phosphate binders. Using any phosphate binder was not associated with dp-ucMGP levels (median 1637 pmol/L, p = 0.09) compared to no phosphate binders (median 1142 pmol/L). Twenty-six patients used sevelamer monotherapy, which was associated with higher dp-ucMGP levels (median 1740 pmol/L, p = 0.04) after adjusting for age, sex and vitamin K antagonist use.

Conclusions: Recent kidney transplantation is associated with lower dp-ucMGP levels suggesting improved vitamin K status after transplantation. Sevelamer monotherapy is associated with higher dp-ucMGP levels suggesting worsening of vitamin K status. Both findings warrant more attention to vitamin K status in patients on dialysis, as vitamin K is necessary for protection against vascular calcification.

Full Access Link: PLoS ONE